In the early 1940s the German ship the Tirpitz was moored deep within the Norwegian fjords. It was in an easily defensible location, and posed a serious threat to shipping in the northern Atlantic area. The only way that the British Navy could eliminate this threat was to attack with miniature submersibles.
The first attempt to blow up the Tirpitz was made using the new British human torpedoes. However, this was unsuccessful and the navy’s X-Craft eventually completed the mission. These miniature submarines were faster, had a greater range and could stay submerged for longer than the human torpedoes. In September 1943, two X-Craft successfully laid charges beneath the Tirpitz and caused extensive damage, putting this formidable warship out of action.
The British human torpedoes looked very similar to their Italian counterparts. This photograph was taken during trials in Loch Cairnbawn in the 1940s. Image courtesy of the Italian Navy.